WSPA – Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

WSPA – Lewa Wildlife Conservancy

– Anti-poaching and veterinary project in Kenya

Year: 2006 – 2010
Partners: WSPA
Project background
Since ancient times,  hunters in Africa have used snares to catch their pray. Today however, the wildlife in Africa is hunted more than ever due to the increasing demand for wildlife meat in both the local and the international markets.

Poaching and snaring are major problems in the Hombe and Ragati valleys near Mountain Lodge in the Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve. This project will support the work of an anti-poaching/de-snaring team and a mobile wildlife Veterinary Unit operating in the area to remave snares, deter poachers and provide veterinary care for affected wildlife.

Snaring is the cheapest and easiest ways to catch wild animals for meat, and worldwide accounts for 84% of village based hunting harvests. Unfortunately, this technique is also one of the mot brutal forms of hunting, as poachers trap more animals than can be realistically retrieved and do not check their traps frequently, leaving animals to suffer for extended periods prior to death. lndeed, studies have shown that approximately a quarter of animals trapped by snaring are lost to decomposition or scavengers and a third escape injured. Snaring is also indiscriminate and therefore atfects many ether species (e.g. small primates), which may not be otherwise targeted by hunters.

The proximity of Lewa to a historically insecure and volatile region of northern Kenya constitutes a serious threat to the wildlife of the region, and in particular to the conservancy’s rhino and migratory elephant populations. As a result, wildlife security, monitering and anti-poaching operations account for the majority of Lewa’s annual operations budget. The WSPA funded Lewa project aims to tackle poaching and snaring in the Hombe and Ragati valleys near Mountain Lodge on the South Western flank of Mt. Kenya Forest Reserve. In recent years, this area has become a major target for poachers using both wire snares and packs of dogs to catch animals such as buffalo, bongo, bush buck, giant forest hog, black rhino and elephant.

The project ineludes two synergistic components:

Anti Poaching team – The 5  person anti-poaching  team funded by WSPA is part of a larger proteetion force of 150 men operating from LWC headquarters in lsiolo. The anti-poaching team is led by an experienced Kenya Police Reservist, licensed to carry an automatic weapon, perform arrests and press charges. The ether team members are local people (mostly Maasai),  who  have developed professionally within the LWC org.anization and have been selected on the basis of key skilis such as tracking and bush craft. The team operates primarily in an area of mountain forest surrounding the Mt Kenya Lqdge, b1:.1t also conduets operations within the wider Rangelands area. The team undertake foot patrals to Jocate and destroy snares, gather intelligence from local communities and mount ambushes for poachers.  Where the severity of an infraction warrants such action, the team are also able to commandeer a Blood hound unit from Lewa headquarters totrack poachers back to the towns.

Mobile Vet Unit – The mobile vet unit provides medical support to the anti poaching team and can rapidly respond to requests  for assistance  anywhere  in the Mt  Kenya or Laikipia area. Animais wounded by snares or poachers are initially darted and then treated in situ to facilitate immediate release back into the wild. In more severe cases however, animals are taken to LWC animal holding facilities for treatment  and necessary recuperation.

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